The Future of Solo Practice?

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

The Future of Solo Practice?

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Marc Cooper, DDS recently wrote an op-ed stating, “Solo practices are like pen and paper, hard drives, car keys…all things that are becoming obsolete”, and that consumers are only concerned with “immediate access, convenience, clear pricing, efficiency…digitally validated quality – not connected to a relationship with a dentist.”

Wow.

Certainly, there are some meta trends happening in dentistry which support SOME these conclusions in SOME of the population, but do they merit a blanket conclusion that relationship-based solo practices are now “obsolete”? Because if so, that means what I experience every day in my practice is an illusion. And that the patients who specifically seek us out BECAUSE of the relationships we intentionally build must have missed the memo.

Dr. Cooper goes on to explain, that people like me are “bad a forecasting” (my demise) and that I am “overwhelmed”, and “cannot offer powerful visionary leadership”, and that these represent more reasons why the way I practice today is “obsolete”.

Hmm…

Before we get too far down this road, let’s get a few facts straight. Avrom King projected that the market would fragment in exactly the same pattern evolving today – in 1980. He warned dentists that the “traditional” family practice “was dead or at least on full life support” – in 1980. And that If dentists did not start moving toward a true health-centered, relationship-based practice model soon, that their practice future was at significant risk.

Personally, I’d call that damn good forecasting. And I’d also call the many dentists who followed his sage advice smart, effective, successful, and certainly NOT obsolete.

The truth of the matter is that the market is indeed consolidating, industrializing and dehumanizing just as Dr. Cooper stared. But a niche in the marketplace remains for dentists who know how to build long-term collaborative relationships with people who need them and want them, and who know how to serve them well. And that is only possible through visionary leadership -a skill many solo dentists do indeed have today.

So, I wouldn’t be so quick to close the book on the future of solo relationship-based practices. In fact, I believe that the future is brighter than ever for those who can make themselves ready to receive the patients who feel that they are not being served well by the future digital mills.

And oh yes, it might be helpful for you to know Marc Cooper is the founder of a DSO as well as “senior consultant”, “futurist”, “life coach”, and a “human being” with a little bit of a bias towards the way he makes his living.

Paul A. Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, ©2018

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